A leading union is calling for a programme to convert domestic heating systems to use green gases such as hydrogen, which it says could support 100,000 jobs.
The GMB said plans to ban the installation of new gas boilers will leave millions of homes with huge bills and potentially weeks of disruption.
The scale of this will be most intense in “red wall” areas, as the North East, North West, the West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber have the highest proportion of homes connected to the gas grid of all English regions, the union said.
Installing a basic electric heat pump costs £8,750 on average before VAT – equivalent to almost a third (31%) of the average household’s entire annual income, said the GMB.
National officer Andy Prendergast said: “Ripping out existing boilers across 26 million homes across the UK is utterly absurd.
“It will lead to heating chaos for millions of people and general resentment towards the UK’s drive to net zero, especially if households are then forced to rely on unproven heat pump technology.
“By investing in hydrogen technologies, we can use our existing gas network instead of throwing it all away, and thousands of skilled gas engineers across the country will have jobs adapting the systems.
“Hydrogen is crucial to meeting our net-zero targets and crucial for ensuring a proper transition for gas workers.”
The issue will be discussed at the TUC Congress on Sunday.
A Business Department spokesman said: “The Government has absolutely no plans to ‘rip out’ existing boilers – this is deeply misleading.
“Over the next 15 years, we will incentivise households to switch to less polluting and more efficient heating systems as people come to replace their fossil fuel boilers.
“Our entire approach will be to keep energy bills low and ensure this gradual transition away from gas boilers is fair and affordable for consumers and the taxpayer.
“In addition to our world-leading Hydrogen Strategy, our detailed approach in this area will be set out shortly in the Heat and Buildings Strategy.”